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Previous Events - 2023

Some presentation slides and/or event recordings may be available for personal use. If you have any enquiries, please contact the Centre for Disability Studies.


Dr Gareth M Thomas: 'I’m a seed that’s been kept in a dark hole for so long and it’s now time for it to become a tree!’: cultivating counter-narratives of disability through the arts 

Friday 8th December 2023

Despite policies designed to improve the lives of adults with learning disabilities, they remain at the margins of UK society and are assumed, perpetuated by popular representations, to be living a life of isolation, tragedy, and exclusion. But what possibilities are there for learning-disabled adults – frequently spoken for by proxies or excluded from research altogether – to counter such narratives?

In this talk, Gareth Thomas discussed the early findings of an ethnographic study at multiple sites, specifically a theatre company and dance and drag groups run by/with/for people with learning disabilities. Drawing on this data, Gareth explored how learning-disabled adults confront dominant oppressive narratives and articulate their lives in more affirmative terms. Through the arts, he shows how they can resist assumptions of vulnerability, passivity, and isolation, and highlight their own creativity, resistance, vigour, and interdependence. In so doing, he discussed how adults with learning disabilities cultivate positive, public accounts of their lives that re-story what it means to live with disability. He concluded with some short reflections on the next steps of the project.

Gareth M. Thomas is a Reader in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, UK. He is a sociologist interested in disability, health/illness, medicine, and reproduction. Thomas’ primary empirical focus in recent years is people’s experiences, perceptions, and representations of disability (e.g. disabled people; parents of disabled children; healthcare professionals) in different spaces and spheres (e.g. prenatal screening; popular media; the arts).

Professor Mark Priestley: Reflections, Commentaries and Hopes for Disability Studies 

Wednesday 22nd November 2023

Professor Mark Priestley outlined his reflections and commentaries on the significance of Disability Studies, disability policy in the UK and across the globe, and the significance of disability activism and politics within research agendas. The event began with Prof Mark Priestley in discussion with several guests: Dr Ieva Eskyte, Dr Miro Griffiths, Professor Anna Lawson and Dr Claudia Coveney, who posed questions associated with areas of his work. This was followed by questions, comments, and discussion with audience members in-person and online.

Prof Mark Priestley is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, at the University of Leeds. He is the former Head of School (2011 – 2014) and pro-Dean for research in the faculty of Education, Social Sciences, And Law (2004 – 2007). From 2008-2019, Prof Mark Priestley was Scientific Director of the European Commission's Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED) and has a continuing role in providing expertise in this area. His research focuses on disability policy and politics, mostly in European and international comparative contexts, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, which translate into policy relevant analysis. He also has extensive experience of advising governments – in the UK and across the globe – on disability policy and welfare provision.

CDS Postgraduate Conference

Saturday 21st October 2023

This conference focused on the intersectional nature of academia and activism in disability studies, and how activism and academia can inform each other. Our postgraduate researchers provided a supportive space to develop community connections and learn about the exciting work that fellow PGRs are producing.

Overcoming disabling barriers to justice and support after sexual violence - Dr Andrea Hollomotz, Dr Leah Burch and Ruth Bashall.

This seminar was led by Dr Andrea Hollomotz (Centre for Disability Studies), Dr Leah Burch (Liverpool Hope University, University of Leeds), and Ruth Bashall (Stay Safe East).

The speakers presented their research with disabled victim survivors of sexual violence, the barriers they face in accessing support following their experiences, and suggestions for increasing the accessibility of victim support services and the criminal justice system. Professor Karen Throsby (SSP) acted as discussant.

The liberation torch (…) for disabled people’: Rethinking the work of Paul Hunt with Judy Hunt (activist) and Luke Beesley (University of Brighton)

The editors of Paul Hunt’s newly published journal and collected works discussed the implications of these works and new interpretations of his work and life. Dr Hannah Morgan acted as discussant.